New York Film Festival
The 2011 New York Film Festival has announced its full lineup of films, and as expected, a few more genre/horror films have appeared to join Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, most of which have been popping up on all the major film fest rosters also.
4:44: Last Day on Earth
Abel Ferrara, 2011
How would we spend our final hours on Earth? And what does how we choose to die say about how we have chosen to live? In the hands of the inimitable Abel Ferrara (Go Go Tales, NYFF ’07), this thought experiment takes on a visceral immediacy. With the planet on the verge of extinction, a New York couple (Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh) cycle through moments of anxiety, ecstacy, and torpor. As they sink into the havens of sex and art, and Skype last goodbyes in a Lower East Side apartment filled with screens bearing tidings of doom and salvation, the film becomes one of Ferrara’s most potent and intimate expressions of spiritual crisis. An apocalyptic trance film, 4:44 is also a mournful valentine to Ferrara’s beloved New York: the director’s first fiction feature to be filmed entirely in the city in over a decade, and coming 10 years after the September 11 attacks, a haunting vision of doom in the lower Manhattan skyline.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Sean Durkin, 2011
Sean Durkin’s haunting first feature, about a young woman’s halting attempts to undo the psychic terror of the cult she’s just escaped, heralds the arrival of a remarkable new talent. Fleeing a Manson-like Catskills compound at dawn, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen, leading an excellent cast) reconnects with her older sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson), a bourgeois New Yorker who takes in her sibling at the Connecticut country house she shares with her husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy). Lucy remains unaware of exactly what happened to Martha over the past few years—details that Durkin slowly but powerfully unveils in uncanny, disorienting flashbacks. The film’s gorgeous, painterly compositions have the chilling effect of suggesting that even our worst nightmares still retain a seductive allure. A Fox Searchlight release.
Lars von Trier, 2011
The end of the world—and the collapse of the spirit—has never been depicted as beautifully and wrenchingly as in Melancholia, the latest provocation from Lars von Trier (Antichrist, NYFF ’09). The title refers both to a destructive planet “that has been hiding behind the sun” and the crippling depression of new bride Justine (a revelatory Kirsten Dunst, rightful winner of the Best Actress award at Cannes this year), whose mental illness is so severe that she drives away her groom during their disastrous wedding reception. As the extinction of the planet looms ever larger, Justine is desperately tended to by her sister, Claire (an equally magnificent Charlotte Gainsbourg), herself gripped by anxiety over the impending doomsday. Melancholia’s premise may be science fiction, but the feelings of despair it plumbs are the most heart-felt human drama. A Magnolia Pictures release.
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